Exclusive: New York Times Lacks Credibility
By Congressman Lamar Smith
Wednesday March 11, 2009

After years of biased reporting — reaching a new low with the most one-sided coverage of a presidential campaign in history last year — The New York Times has lost its credibility.  But rather than try to restore it, the Times continues to lose credibility by serving as a cheerleader for President Obama’s administration.

Recently, for example, the Times published an article titled, “Survey Reveals Broad Support for President.”  Using its own poll as evidence, the Times asserted that President Obama enjoyed “remarkably high levels of optimism and confidence” and an “aura of good will” among Americans.  The article compared President Obama’s support with that of President Reagan early in his term, and concluded that Obama had “substantial political clout.”

The very same day, Gallup released a poll with very similar results, but its analysis of the poll told a very different story.  While the Gallup poll and the Times poll had the exact same job approval number for President Obama (63 percent), Gallup characterized the result as “typical of how the last several presidents have fared at the one-month mark.”  In fact, Gallup pointed out that President Obama’s approval rating was “nearly identical” to the average of the last six presidents.  There was no mention of “remarkably high levels” of support or an “aura of good will.”

In addition, Gallup found that the number of people who disapproved of the way President Obama is doing his job had doubled in just one month, from 12 percent to 24 percent.   (That number climbed to 29 percent in Gallup’s latest survey.)  Gallup noted that Obama’s disapproval rating was higher than the average of the last six presidents (16 percent).

How can two polls with similar results lead to such different conclusions?  The answer is that The New York Times, along with most of the national media, is biased in favor of President Obama.  And national newspapers like the Times set the agenda for other media.

We know that the bias is palpable and overwhelming.  Reporters contributed 15 times more money to Democrats than to Republicans in the last election cycle.  And we all know that’s reflected in their coverage — or lack of it.

This is a dangerous problem because Americans count on the media to provide information about the important issues we face.  Americans need the media to be objective reporters on these issues, not cheerleaders.

So what to do?  We can start by calling on the Times and other national media outlets to adhere to the highest standards of their journalistic profession by reporting the news objectively and fairly.  We can single out examples of bias and ask for better coverage.  We can encourage the media to give the American people the facts and then let them make up their own minds.  And, when appropriate, we can let our voices be heard by changing viewing habits or canceling subscriptions.

With improving technology, Americans already are looking to new sources for news.  Like most newspapers, the Times faces difficult financial challenges.  The company’s stock slipped to an all-time low last month.  The last thing the Times needs to do is deter additional readers with biased reporting.

We must make the media’s responsibility part of the public dialogue.  Holding them accountable will go a long way towards providing the balance in the news that our nation needs and deserves.

Congressman Lamar Smith represents the 21st District of Texas. He is the ranking Republican member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. He also serves on the Homeland Security and Science Committees. Smith was first elected to Congress in 1986.

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